The Doomswoman by Gertrude Franklin Horn Atherton
The next morning Chonita, clad in a long gown of white wool, a silver cross at her throat, her hair arranged like a coronet, sat in a large chair in the dispensary. Her father stood beside a table, parcelling drugs. The sick-poor of Santa Barbara passed them in a long line.
The Doomswoman exercised her power to heal, the birthright of the twin.
"I wonder if I can," she said to me, laying her white fingers on a knotted arm, "or if it is my father's medicines. I have no right to question this beautiful faith of my country, but I really don't see how I do it. Still, I suppose it is like many things in our religion, not for mere human beings to understand. This pleases my vanity, at least. I wonder if I shall have cause to exercise my other endowment."
"Yes: I think I might do that with something more of sincerity."
The men, women, and children, native Californians and Indians, scrubbed for the occasion, filed slowly past her, and she touched all kindly and bade them be well. They regarded her with adoring eyes and bent almost to the ground.
"Perhaps they will help me out of purgatory," she said; "and it is something to be on a pedestal; I should not like to come down. It is a cheap victory, but so are most of the victories that the world knows of."
When she had touched nearly a hundred, they gathered about her, and she spoke a few words to them.
"My friends, go, and say, 'I shall be well.' Does not the Bible say that faith shall make ye whole? Cling to your faith! Believe! Believe! Else will you feel as if the world crumbled beneath your feet! And there is nothing, nothing to take its place. What folly, what presumption, to suggest that anything can--a mortal passion--" She stopped suddenly, and continued coldly, "Go, my friends; words do not come easily to me to-day. Go, and God grant that you may be well and happy."